Kurilpa Derby

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Kurilpa Derby in Brisbane.

It is a fantastic annual community celebration of life on wheels.

The Kurilpa Derby is a major social and community event where the main street of the West End (Brisbane) is  blocked off for the afternoon and taken over by all things colourful, fun, family and related to bikes…and other environmentally-friendly people-powered mobility, such as skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, trolleys, prams and everything in between!

The Derby is hosted by West End Community Association and is open to the general public and showcases the best that the West End has to offer in terms of business, community and lifestyle.

I have not previously been to the Derby before and this year it came highly recommended. Boy and I glad I went.

I had a brilliant time.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

What happened at Kurilpa Derby?

The event is a much loved, anticipated and popular event.

It was a stunning, sunny day – and there was a great turn out.

Leki was at her floral best and I went as a jokey to pay homage to the ‘derby’ theme and also for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

The day started with the Kurilpa Derby Street Parade.

Leki and I joined in the street parade along with all the other participants floats, families and locals.

The Parade was colourful and noisy and a lot of fun. We were surrounded by colour and energy and lots of locals, families and community groups participated.

The effort and thought that people had put into decorating whatever parade mode they had and their costuming was impressive.

There was so much to see in the parade, like the Brazilian dancing girls, a ‘public pool’ (float), beautifully decorated rickshaws, couches on wheels, unicycles, a tall bike, lots of environmentally-themed mobile displays and a number of killer drumming troupes who keep the parade bopping along.

An amazing oversized water rat ended up winning the float first prized prize.

My personal parade favourite was the beekeeping team-theme float. This was an understand, but well executed exhibit that had  a spunky lady dressed as a bee inside a box decorated as the ‘hive’ as their float. This hive float was pulled by two fully equipped bee keepers (in full bee keeping suits including smoke cans). This crew handed out ices-poles anyone who wanted them the whole time – brilliant!

After the Parade,  the road remained closed and there were a  range of activities,  demos, novelty races and entertainment, such as a Pet Parade, a cocktail race, skateboard demonstration and heaps of other novelty races.

It was brilliant to see so many visitors and families out and about. Kids were roaring up and down the street in between races enjoying the freedom, safety and fun of having an allocated street to roam free and go wild.

It was such a delight to see the community – all locals and visitors alike – come together in such a celebratory and inclusive way.

As the sun went down the festivities continued. The bars, shops, cafes and restaurants did a roaring business and were keep buys all day and night.

Many people stayed on after to attend the Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet, which is a brilliant community potluck dinner extravaganza.

If you have never been to the Kurilpa Derby before, be sure to put it on the calendar for next year. It is well worth it!

Below are a few pics from the day. See more photos at local Greta Pavlova’s Album.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.comKurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com


Images my own, from Kurilpa Derby FB, @imogenbunting & @brisvagueness. Montage from The West End Magazine.

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

This time last week, the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress (APCC) was being held in Christchurch, NZ from Tuesday 17th Oct – Friday 20th Oct.

I wasn’t able to go as I had my PhD Confirmation paper and seminar due smack in the middle – doh! Otherwise, I would have been there for sure and I had a session to present. It will just have to wait until next year!

What was on at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress?

The program for this year looked jammed packed full of interesting sessions. Check out the program link below and see what session takes your fancy.

Get the APCC Program and daily schedule here.Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The link above also gives the daily schedule and a number of the speakers provided their presentations for public distribution.

All sessions were divided into these key themes:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I like that there was also a bit of personality coming through – as evidence,  I was delighted to see Jo Clendon’s poster abstract had a footnote for the term ‘bike user’ as being:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The APCC event is a great forum to share ideas and get inspired. I would have like to have seen more Asia-Pacific-ness in the mix (very Oceania focused). As far as I could see there were no sessions from East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia – and there are some amazing projects going on there!

I hope to see more recognition for countries that are not usually considered to be ‘cycling’ countries to be better represented, included and instrumental in biking discourse and practice. I’d like to see more initiatives from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the like. I know it is far to travel to NZ from these countries, but I’d really dig seeing some more diversity and range of contexts and ‘life world’ experiences in this conference’s program (in fact in all ALL conference programs!).

Who was presenting?

As you would expect, there were HEAPS of NZ presenters covering a massive array of planning, economic, behavioural, community, research and other projects – impressive!

As I have said before, NZ is by far whooping AUS arse on so many fronts (least of all NBN, Politics, Supporting Outdoor Industries to name a few). However, NZ’s progressive, strategic and forward-thinking development and integration of cycling an biking nationwide are envious. I go to Rotorua every year to ride and have posted before on a number of fun and admirable aspects of how riding and bike feature prominently in NZ.

I’ve also said before how easy, convent, and enjoyable it is being a cycling tourist in NZ. I’ve posted on how easy it is to get around in Rotorua, and some of their great community projects like the Dad’s n Lads bike events, as well as the formidable urban strategic plans within the major cities ( like Rotorua) that make biking a normalised way of getting around town – as well as being part of the larger picture to connect the whole country from top to bottom by bike paths – awesome! So NZ is by far a cycling leader on many fronts – and AUS would do well to learn from their NZ counterparts.

 

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I was happy to see Brisbane represented:

  • Mark Pattemore’s (Brisbane City Council) Better bikeways for Brisbane.
  • Sarah Wilkinson (QLD Government) Cost-Benefit analysis of recent major cycling investments across QLD.
  • Narelle Haworth (QLD), Kristin Heesch (QLD) & Ashim Kumar Debath (VIC) Individual & Environmental Correlates of motorists passing distance of bicycle riders

As well as other Aussie presenters:

  • Cameron Munro (CDM Research, Melb) Designing for Bike Riders on local road roundabouts
  • Peter Metcalf (Wagners, Aust) Cycling the Hawkes Bay NZ region in safety with the aid of a clip on cycleway

And some OS delegates:

  • Tom Ransom (Isle of Wight, UK) School travel behaviour change
  • Thomas Stokell (USA) Bike Data Analysis – a comparison between 21,000 NZ riders and 180,000 riders from around the world
  • Jurgen Gerlach (Germany) with Axel Wilke (NZ) & Alistair Woodward (NZ) Safe…. but only if it’s efficient
  • Tyler Golly  (Canada) & Ryan Martinson (Canada) How to achieve rapid change for cycling outcomes

There were so many great NZ sessions that it would be too much to include here – suffice to say, it is well worth checking out the program link above in bold to see which session is most interesting for you.

October is the month for it!

The APCC is run in conjunction with Biketober, Christchurch’s month long celebration of all things bikes. Seems like October is the month for such events if Bike Palooza (Bendigo, VIC) and Biketober (Christchurch, NZ) is anything to go by!

Here is some of what is on for Christchurch’s Biketober.

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.

 

English Australia (QLD Branch) PD Fest 2017

Yesterday I attended the annual English Australia (Queensland Branch) PD Fest.

My ride into UQ, St Lucia on Leki my flower bike put me in a particularly good mood. It was a beautiful morning despite the clean up still happening due to (ex-) cyclone Debbie having passed through. Although I admit to stopping on the bridge to marvel at the state of the Brisbane River (click on the Instagram link at bottom of this post for more photos of Debbie’s impact). Once on site though, I found a great spot for Leki to chill out for the day just near the Conference entrance with all the other bikes. It was lovely to have other delegates come up looking for me and tell me they had seen my bike outside I knew it must have been me. Leki is far better than any name tag!

english-australia

What is the PD Fest?

This event is primarily for teachers who teach English at various levels to people from overseas. Delegates come from a range of organisations all over Queensland. Participants are in various roles (not just teaching), but the commonality is that we all work with International students, migrants, refugees or any other ‘English as a second language learner’.

I presented at this conference two years ago and so can appreciate the effort that the presenters and organisers put into making this event happen. This year I was interested in attending to see if there were any new ideas to experiment with in my class and to see what other projects, practices and approaches other teachers were using. I made an effort to meet a few new people, all of whom were interesting company and had a wealth of teaching (and life) experiences. There was a good array of sessions that were thought-provoking and useful – as you can see from the schedule below.

English Australia (QLD Branch) PD Fest 2017

Here is the full Conference Program book: 2017 PD Fest Program Book

English Australia (Queensland Branch) PD Fest

$6 million Partnership Fund – anyone want some?
I stayed to the very end. I was keen to see the All Star Band play – and all day I been thinking about something that Patrick Mafenstein (Group Manager – International Education and Training Unit, Trade & Investment Queensland) had presented in the morning session. He had outlined the new Queensland state strategy focused on International Students and ELICOS Education – which involves a $6 million partnership fund. One of the stipulations to apply for this funding is that application needs to be a consortium (two or more organisations – to spread the resources, work and results around). Here is an outline of the Strategy and all its details: International Education Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026

International Education Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026
Source: International Education Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026, pg 5.

 

During his presentation, Patrick asked if anyone was thinking of applying for some of the funding and as far as I could see only two hands went up in a full auditorium.

At this stage, one of the PD Fest organisers jumped in good-naturedly to tell the audience that the EA Queensland Branch was in a position to apply (was a consortium) and would welcome ideas on some projects.

Supply bicycles to international students studying in Queensland

So this is my idea for English Australia to apply for a slice of the international student funding.

To address one of the major strategic imperatives (specifically #17, as well as community engagement), I think Queensland should pilot a program where international students are supplied with bicycles for greater educational, employment and recreational mobility.

This idea could go in any number of ways and is only limited by the imagination (and interest and budget of course!). Part of the program could be safety and some riding skills as well as basic mechanical skills (changing a type etc.) needed to get started.

Additional considerations would be things like helmets, lights, reflector and locks.

To my knowledge, there is no ‘educational’ initiative that is specficially addressing international student transportation needs, so it would be ‘innovative’ as well as being sustainable, novel and practical.

The cost of transportation is currently high for international students and the impact of being isolated and unable to ‘get out’ can have serious negative impacts ranging from boredom to depression – but having access to a bicycle is mitigates such issues – it also means students are out and participating in social community life.

Mobility is an aspect of student life that is fundamental to community accessibility and interaction, yet is rarely discussed. Bicycles are a great way for students to also access other livelihood imperatives, such as health, fitness and vocational opportunities.

Queensland has some great weather for cycling, so there is even more of an impetus to get students out and about and enjoying it.

There could be an opportunity to link into other local community groups and programs or develop the idea to meet other strategic imperatives. WOudl be good to link into the local community via canvassing and collecting bicycles and collaborating with local organisations and bike and/or men’s shed to refurbish appropriate bicycles for use.

Anyway, that was the idea I pitched to the organisers at the end of the day – will be interesting to see what (if anything) happens…I’ll keep you in the loop!

Earth Hour 2017

Tonight my household is part of the international celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Earth Hour 2017. Horray!

Along with millions of other homes in 179 countries and in over 7,000 cities, from 8.30pm – 9.30pm tonight, those homes who have registered are turning off all the power for at least one hour in recognition of worldwide climate, resource and environmental issues.

How bicycles are part of Earth Hour 2017

I am very proud to see this Australian event take off internationally and to see how bicycles have been incorporated more and more into the event – here are just a few ways cycling is featuring this year around the world for Earth Hour 2017.

There are heaps of bicycle-themed events going on this year for Earth Hour. Here are some innovative examples:

Earth Hour 2017
Source: Press Reader. Click here for original article.

 

I was interested to find that in 2014 there was a spin-off version of Earth Hour called ‘Bike Hour’ – a very bicycle-inspired initiative.

Earth Hour 2017
Source: Cycle Space Click here to original

 

If you are interested – the short video below shows some of the highlights and impacts from Earth Hour 2016. If you are not already involved – and even if you are – perhaps you can host your own Earth Hour bicycle event! Good luck and have fun!!

Bike Futures Conference – Melbourne 2017

One of my goals for this year is to support and attend more bicycle infrastructure, policy and research events.  After all, 2017 is the ‘Year of the Bicycle‘ and my research is entering a stage where it really has social viability, so looks like I’ll have to dust off my dancing shoes for a few shindigs!

So to kick off the year right, I am heading down to Melbourne in a few weeks to attend my first event of the year –  Bicycle Network’s Bike Futures Conference 2017. Tasmania and Sydney have already held their state conferences and there appears to be no state conference set for Queensland – at least not in 2016 or 2017 that I have found. (Oh  dear Queensland! Not again!! Such a pity you are always so far behind the world and rest of Australia when it comes to supporting any kind of progressive cycling or biking – tsk, tsk – perhaps this is the year to turn it all around!!).

So it’s off to Victoria!  It is also a great excuse to revisit to my old hometown and see some family and friends after being away for what seems like an age!

Bicycle Network Bike Futures Conference 2017

This is a one-day forum aimed at bringing together researchers, policy-makers, bike advocates, businesses, government agencies and others to share the latest developments in cycling provision. The overall aim is to improve biking conditions and encourage more people to ride bikes. The program details a good range of speakers confirmed from various educational, business, political, health and social spheres.

On the day there will be plenary discussions, presentations and workshops on a range of topics (see tentative program below) such as safety, planning, behaviour change and various urban uses and infrastructure approaches.

I’m very excited to hear what cycling development Victoria has implemented over the last 2.5 years since I have been away and to hear what has – and has not worked. It will be a great opportunity to make some contacts and network as well. The program looks diverse and engaging and I am keen to attend pretty much every session!

I am going as I want to make some industry contacts and hope to hear about a range of interesting, challenging and/or informative sessions. I’m looking to get inspired – and hopefully, the event will also help stimulate and distill some new ideas. If I am really lucky, maybe it might even open up some new directions on how I can apply some key learnings from Melbourne’s experience to my own PhD research project.

 

Opportunity to scout some new BCC blog talent and features!

I’m going to make the most of this trip to Melbourne. To do so, I am also organising some introductions, meetings and site visitations while there. I’m keen to catch up with some old friends and see what has changed, and to follow up on a few leads featured previously on this blog – and to make some new contacts to feature as well!

I’m also looking forward to riding around Melbourne and rediscovering her biking treasures and secrets.

It is a great opportunity also to investigate what cycling events are going on in and around Melbourne.

So if you know of any biking research or events happening in Melbourne from Feb 7th – Feb 21st, 2017 that you think is worthy of a look-see, or want to recommend a person, group or event I should contact for this blog, please let me know via the comments box below. Thanks in advance! I would really appreciate your suggestions!

 

Morning Bicycle Network

Bicycle Network
Source: Bicycle Network

 

CoastEd Bike Ride Treasure Hunt

Prescript – I am teaching a Summer Semester course at Griffith Univerity called ‘Community Internship’. There are 33 students in my workshops. This course provides an opportunity for students to develop a range of professional and personal skills while making a difference in their community through combining volunteering with academic learning through a community internship in which they undertake a 50-hour minimum volunteering. This week the students are doing their Peer Discussion assessments, where they discuss and analyse key aspects, events and learnings from their placements.

Imagine my surprise when during one of these sessions, Sienna Harris, who is working with the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, mentioned that her organisation was hosting a bicycle treasure hunt! After the assessment, I got the details – and here they are. I’m very grateful to Sienna for sharing this event here. Best of luck to the CoastEd crew for this event and to Sienna for completing her internship!

 

Free for the next two days?

Got your bike and not sure where to ride while visiting the Gold Coast tomorrow (19th Jan) and Friday (20th Jan)?

Well!!

What better way to enjoy the stunning Summer sunshine at the Gold Coast, than to grab your bike and some mates and participate in an explorative treasure hunt to learn more about the gorgeous local coast environment there?  Let’s go!

 

The CoastEd Bike Challenge – Gold Coast, Australia.

This activity is a fantastic community engagement initiative as it: raises community awareness about current coastal management projects, helps increase local knowledge, encourages direct social/educational engagement with the surrounding coastal environment, is a fun family friendly event, and best of all …. all done on bicycles!!

The focus of this event is a 1.5-hour treasure hunt bike ride around the local Gold Coast Spit region. On this bike ride you explore the north region on Thursday (19th Jan) and the south beaches on Friday (20th Jan) – so you can go for one session or both. The main idea is to enjoy a beautiful morning out riding on bikes while learning a little more about the diverse and unique coastal wildlife, plants and natural features of the Gold Coast beach area and how they are being managed.

I think this initiative is an innovative and memorable way to encourage more people to get out on two wheels as well as exploring the beautiful spit coastal area while getting updated on current coastal management challenges, responses and successes.

Not only a great day out on the bike – but a great way to wow your friends at dinner parties with your new found knowledge of Gold Coast coastal protection practices!

You can bring you own bike for free or hire a bike on the day.

 

North Spit Area (Thursday 19th, January 2017 ) and South Spit Area (Friday 20th, January 2017).

City of Gold Coast
Source: City of Gold Coast

 

It looks like the CoastEd team has been working very hard to put together a thoughtful, fun, informative and appealing series of community events. I hope we see more community events like this that are focused on getting locals (and visitors) out on bikes in an active, social and educational way. It is also great to see a summer program that is not pushy, exclusive, condescending or over-priced in content, audience or marketing.

So, if you are in the Gold Coast area over the next couple of days – book in, grab your bike and head down for some awesome bike-riding treasure-hunting coast-protecting fun in the sun!

 

CoastEd
Source: CoastEd

 

CoastEd Organisation Background

Prepared and written by Sienna Harris.

The CoastEd program is an educational component of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) that began in 2001 to create a bridge between policy makers and the community. For the past 15 years, the program has worked in partnership with the City of Gold Coast City Council, who have assisted with funding the delivery of this outreach program to the local community and school-based groups. The program was implemented and developed in response to enquiries directly from the Gold Coast community about information, complaints and questions on coastal management. It started small at ten sessions per year and now caters for over 5500 participants at sixty sessions a year, providing an opportunity for Gold Coast community members and youth to learn about our local coastline. The CoastEd program seeks to increase the capacity of the local community to participate in coastal decision making through raising awareness of South-East Queensland’s current coastal and environmental issues. These include management issues, engineering structures, wildlife and its habitats.

Primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and community groups centred on the Gold Coast are offered free and subsidised education sessions based on a wide variety of topics that relate back to the region’s coastal zones. The interactive, hands-on sessions that run for either 30 or 60 minutes have been tailored around the Australian Schools Curriculum and the three main learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Schools are also offered optional curriculum-based worksheets tailored to the level of the participants. Although it was initiated on the Gold Coast, the sessions have also been run in schools from Brisbane to Northern NSW and can be delivered at the school, community hall, on campus at Griffith or on field trips that are undertaken on local beaches. The sessions are run by researchers in the fields of coastal management, marine science and environmental education, and involve surveys, flora and fauna identification techniques and primary data collection.

The information provided during sessions is based on the latest and most up-to-date coastal research because of the ongoing research conducted at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management and via current data that is provided through their partnership with the City of Gold Coast. Maggie Muurmans coordinates the CoastEd program, but the team also includes Peta Leahy, Daniel Ware, Sally Obst, Chantal Hujbers, Tom Murray, Tegan Croft, and James Gullison. The team’s knowledge and expertise in a wide range of fields have allowed them to produce Coastal Plant Pocket Guides for both the Gold Coast region and Western Australia, and a Rocky Shore Pocket Guide for the Gold Coast. As well, Teacher Packs ranging from Prep to Year 12, which cover the topics of Coastal Management and Engineering, Coastal Ecology, and Coastal Tourism and Recreation.

The CoastEd program also works closely in conjunction with other coastal management programs and initiatives that run through the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management; these include BeachCare, Dune Watch and Ocean Connect. On top of these other sessions and activities, Maggie Muurmans also runs School Holiday programs, (twice weekly) which are aimed at children, young people and families. These sessions and activities are interactive and hands-on, with a focus on connecting the community with their ocean environment for educative purposes, but also in the hope of building community stewardship and responsibility.

Rotorua’s Tree of Bikes

Imagine my surprise when arriving in New Zealand, I saw another bicycle-inspired ‘Christmas’ Tree! After having just left Brisbane a week ago and seeing Brisbane’s bicycle-powered Christmas Tree at South Bank, I found that New Zealand have their own spin on the bicycle-themed (Christmas) Tree.

 

NZ’s Tree of Bikes

Just like my PhD topic, NZ’s Tree of Bikes was specifically designed to raise awareness of the vital role that bicycles play in getting children who live in extreme poverty to school – awesome!

The NZ Tree of Bikes is the brain child of ChildFund and was created in collaboration with Enterprize Steel and Beca Engineers. It was originally erected in Queens Street Wharf, Auckland for Christmas last year (2014/5). Aside from raising awareness about bicycle-for-education needs in developing nations, the tree was also a focus point to promote ChildFund’s Gifts that Grow program during Christmas. Although the Gifts that Grow program doesn’t have a specific bicycle-for-education option, it does provide aside range of immediate, sustainable, community-orientated and positive present-giving replacement options in a similar theme to Bicycle Create Change’s previous post of bicycle-inspried alternative ethical gift alternatives to help support other less fortunate and those living in extreme poverty.

 

The Tree of Bikes Origin

There are two versions of the NZ Tree of Bikes. Bother trees have the same structure, features and function.

For example, the first Auckland Tree of Bikes was a 7-meter high Bicycle ‘Christmas’ Tree that had a central steel structure that was adored by 120 up-cycled bicycles and an array of bike parts. The 120 bicycles that make up this tree were all donated by local Aucklanders and after the tree was exhibited over Christmas, the tree was dismantled and the all the bicycles were donated to local community groups like the Refugee Centre.

The Auckland Tree of Bikes was so popular and successful, that a similar, second tree was organised and installed in March 2016 by the Rotorua Lakes Council to coincide with Crankworx Rotorua. It was great to see local council getting behind the intiative and fully supporting the project by providing with a donation drop-off point, publicity and clearing the red tape to ensure that such a great project is endorsed, encouraged and prioritised. As with the Auckland Tree of Bikes, the local residents of Rotorua donated 150 bicycles and parts to create the 2016 Bike Tree public art instillation that featured prominently at the Crankworx Village Green.

 

Rotorua Bike Tree
Source: Radio NZ:Andrew McRae

Why can’t all local councils be as forward thinking as Rotorua?

Although a seemingly small project, the Rotorua Tree of Bikes is yet again another example of how NZ finds innovative, community-based initiatives that are interesting, promote cycling and increase positive community participation.

Last year when we came to Rotorua for a similar mountain bike trip, I posted on the impressive infrastructure plans and that the local, regional and national NZ Municipalities had in relation to the Rotorua Urban Cycling Strategic Plan 2015-2018. Previously and currently, the local Rotorua Council continue to invest and support development that ensures and cements Rotorua as the premier mountain biking Mecca for the Southern Hemisphere. With such committed political and community investment, the benefits are paying off as word spreads in the mountain bike and enduro scene that Rotorua is the one of the best places to ride.

Why is it so hard for the rest of the world (and Brisbane in particular) not to see that investing in road and trail cycling is profitable, positive and socially beneficial? Rotorua is a fantastic example of this can be mutually advantageous for  tourism and local businesses, as well as for bikers of all ages and stages.

So when you get here, I’ll either see you on the trails or under the Tree of Bikes!

Bicycle-powered Christmas Tree

On the day before I left Brisbane to fly to Rotorua for our annual MTB pilgrimage, I found myself in the city, around South Bank to meet a friend for lunch.

While walking around South Bank,  I was happily surprised to see a bike powered Christmas tree. I’m a big fan of applying cycle-power to charge appliances and goods – for example when Robert Förstemann, the German Track Cycling Star powered a toaster to cook a single slice of bread – GOLD!

So I stopped to check it out and ended up chatting to the guy who was responsible for installing it.

Bicycle-powered Christmas tree

Bicycle-powered Christmas tree
Source: ABC News

Bike powered Christmas Tree

The tree looked very impressive standing 4.2 meters tall and apparently is the first of its kind in Australia.  There are four bikes at the base of the tree and the tree is covered in over 3,500 LED lights, so that when you pedal on a bike your riding charges up lights in certain areas on the tree.

Even when I was there in the daylight there was a line of people waiting to try it. Even in broad daylight you could see the lights happily twinkling away. The owner said this was the second year the tree had been included in Brisbane’s festivities and that it had been very popular.

I thought it was a great addition to the city – not only for Christmas, but also as a promotion for cycling and for a more thoughtful approach to energy consumption over the holiday period.

Bicycle-powered Christmas lights

In the area I live, each year, there is an increasing number of houses being decorating in a ridiculous about of Christmas lights. I know many people think it looks beautiful – and it can, but I find it difficult to reconcile the massive and wasteful energy consumption involved. But, there is a way to have beautiful Christmas lights AND be environmentally responsible as well.  To this end –  I’m waiting for the day when people who decorate their houses in copious amounts of lights or those who want to enter a neighbourhood Christmas Lights competitions – can only so so if they produce their own green/sustainable power to do so – by solar panels, pedal-power or some other sustainable source. If you can do that – go for it! Int his way, I think the bicycle-powered Christmas Tree could be a step in the right direction.

Until then, the lone pedal powered Christmas tree in the city will hopefully serve as not only entertainment, but as a reminder to the community to enjoy a more sustainable, bicycle-friendly and fit and healthy Christmas.

For more info about the bicycle-powered Christmas tree read this ABC news report about the tree here (also includes the video link below).

Ethical Bicycle Christmas Gifts

Christmas is nearly upon us.

In our house we have a strict no present policy. This is primarily for environmental and ethical considerations, but also because we are consciously and actively reducing our impact on the environment and our reliance of material possessions to more towards a more sustainable, thoughtful and minimal existence.

Within the confines of our house, this is easy to enforce and has been the rule for many years. My immediate family and friends know, appreciate and support our no gift position and reasoning. However, in cases when outside our immediate circle (like work) or when have to interact with other families (or other people’s kids), it can still be a little tricky. As much as I detest the mainstream practice of over packaged, wasteful, plastic commodification of expected entitlement that goes along with normative practices of Christmas gift giving, this idea can be quite hard for a four-year old to grasp.

I am fortunate to have years of practice in explaining my gifting approach in a way that can be heard – but not always understood or accepted. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that some people just won’t understand – or will think I’m crazy (..or lazy, forgot, a miser or whatever else). So be it.

I’m at the stage where I don’t care what other people think. But for others who are moving in a similar direction, it can still be difficult if your placed in situations where it might still be necessary/expected to give a present  (work Chris Cringles). So  for those who are in this kind of situation – and for any other bike crazy people who also want to support a more ethical and sustainable Christmas – here are my suggestions for alternative bikivism gift giving techniques.

 

10 Ethical, community-supportive, green, fair-trade, sustainable, bike-inspired gifting alternatives (phew!)

  1. Adopt a ‘make, bake, sew or grow’ gift that is bicycle relate – for example: make a bicycle helmet bag, bake a bicycle theme cake (as featured two posts ago) sew a bike courier patch onto a bag, or plant some flowers to grow into an old upturned bike helmet
  2. World Bicycle Relief – Support bikes, education and developing nations by buying from WBR shop where there are prints, cards, t-shirts and bikes-for-education sponsorship options
  3. Literacy on two wheels – (Room to Read/Global Girlfriend): $50 can provide a bicycle for a girl. School can often be a 2 to 3 hour walk from home along remote roads, making school an impossibility for millions. A bicycle can cut that time down dramatically
  4. Sponsor a Bike – For our UK friends – this organisation has programs starting from £10 a month to support a refugee to start cycling safely. Thi minimal cost includes: a bike, brand new lights, a lock and a helmet, unlimited repairs (if necessary), a road safety session – and you as the donor will receive one free bike service a year. There are also other upgrade options.
  5. Bike Gifts is a South African organisation that aims to add to the South African economy, to support local entrepreneurs and produce new and exciting products. they source quality, local bespoke products
  6. Create your own bicycle gift voucher or gift someone a card that you made with bicycle on the cover, or ethically source it from somewhere else like recycled artists on Etsy, and write: Happy Christmas! This card can be redeemed for an afternoon picnic ride with me. Call me to arrange the date. I can’t wait to share some quality time with you and build more happy memories together!! Happy Christmas!
  7. Check out Shared Earth for a range of fair trade, recycled gifts and home wares made from recycled bike chains. This organisation aims “to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged people in developing countries, benefiting local community projects and keeping alive traditional skills that would otherwise be lost”.
  8. The Intrepid Foundation $25 Bicycle Helmet – The Green Gecko Project cares for former street children and their families by providing them with education, security, love and opportunity. This gift will provide four young people with a bicycle helmet for safe riding on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The best thing about this gift is that for every dollar you spend on this project – The Intrepid Foundation will match with all proceeds going to Green Gecko. Green Gecko also has some other fantastic projects.
  9. Gift a bicycle for 5 children to ride to school in Vietnam through Caritas’ Gift of Education Card program to help support “overcoming poverty, promoting justice, upholding dignity”.
  10. Support women artisans from the slums of Chennai, working with Baladarshan SPEED Foundation that promote local women’s employment opportunities by buying fair-trade recycled Indian Billboard Panniers  (see below)…. you can also select which deities you want to ride with!

Best of luck and I applaud your sustainable and environmentally/socially aware choices in gift giving this Christmas.

I wish you a minimalist and very happy time!

Baladarshan
Source: The New Internationalist – Baladarshan